On Wednesday evening of September 16, Hughes auditorium filled with the sound of praise and prayers as nearly three hundred students lifted their hearts up to God, proclaiming their faith through singing, “I believe in God our Father. I believe in Christ the Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit. Our God is three in one!” Moments later they sat expectantly in their seats as Pastor Mark VanValin walked up to the podium to address the crowd that had gathered for the evening Fall Revival service.
“Pastor Mark takes topics that are hard to grasp and makes them simpler,” says junior Christa Stone. “He takes a lot of information and puts it into one idea that’s easier to grasp.” Students across campus responded with enthusiasm to VanValin’s messages.
Reflecting on VanValin’s speaking, junior Kali Whiteside says, “He doesn’t leave you with a scolding. He gives you a practical way to apply the message to your life.” That practical approach is intentional for VanValin. He says that his goal is to provide a practical angle on Christian life, especially how faith can and should affect daily relationships.
What it all comes down to is love, VanValin says. “The Christian life really is a matter of love. It’s the freedom to give and receive love from God and others. Love is a language the whole world longs for.”
VanValin met with students throughout the week over lunch and coffee, answering further questions and discussing topics of interest. He says that he gets excited to come to Asbury because the students on this campus are genuinely seeking after the Lord. “The young people I meet here are people who want to change the world from the bottom,” he says.
Greg Haseloff says that he loves the annual Fall Revival because it’s “part of an annual rhythm of the campus.” According to Haseloff, Fall Revival has been a tradition at Asbury since the school was first founded in 1890. In the school’s mission statement John Wesley Hughes states, “One of the purposes of Asbury is for young men and women to be saved, sanctified, and made ready to serve the world.” Each element of this mission is emphasized every year through Fall Revival, Holiness Week, and the Great Commission Congress.
“There is a spontaneous element to revival, but to talk about what it means to plan revival is us being very intentional,” Haseloff explains. “The planning part is us saying there will be time outside of chapel that we are going to bring God’s Word – that we are going to teach and we are going to pray together as a campus. I think the number of times that we plan and prepare in that way and all worship together, those times increase the likelihood of spontaneous revival happening.”
According to Haseloff, the timing of Fall Revival is very intentionally placed at the beginning of the semester, allowing students to refocus on Christ as the year begins. Several students have commented that the week-long invitation to attend services also invites God to show up in real ways on campus.
“Revival means the Lord shows up,” says junior Lexi Finley. “And during Fall Revival he does, and he moves in miraculous ways that allow us to leave differently than we came.”